Dept. of State – Educational & Cultural Affairs and Int’l Informational Programs
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Bureau of International Information Programs at the Department of State strongly promote wellness initiatives such as nursing mothers programs. Their purpose is to reduce hurdles to breastfeeding employees by supporting them to transition back to work and continue breastfeeding their child. They improve employee satisfaction, reduce employee absenteeism, and increase productivity. Nursing mothers programs not only help retain current employees, they can also appeal to new ones. It’s a fantastic morale builder and a low-cost initiative that benefits both the employee and the organization.
My family and I have directly benefitted from the nursing mothers program. When I returned to work a few months after having my baby, one of the committee co-chairs warmly welcomed me back, showed me the lactation room and signed me up for the nursing mothers’ list serve. The lactation room is a secure and peaceful place to express milk and contains a refrigerator for safe breastmilk storage, storage shelves, a moveable cubicle wall for privacy, comfortable chairs, a bulletin board for posting information and baby photos, and a small library of books on parenting and breastfeeding. It seems like every week the committee does something to improve this space, which has become a respite for me and the other women who pump there. The monthly brown bags and list serve have also been valuable in creating a space for asking questions and getting needed support. I particularly appreciated the August 2014 Breastfeeding Month weekly brown bags, and in particular, the August 14th session, “Leave Options and the Return to Work”, which included HR staff to answer our myriad questions on this complicated topic. The committee’s work has helped to foster a supportive community of nursing moms who share advice and best practices on feeding and child-rearing. This support helps me to successfully balance the competing priorities of work and family, by allowing me to be a more productive employee while also meeting the needs of my baby. Jennifer B.